THE WORLD MEMORY CHAMPIONSHIP COMPETITION is going on now at Oxford University. The current champion is Ben Pridmore, 28, who can memorize a pack of cards in 32.13 seconds. I wonder if the people who actually have the best memories use their super power to do things like memorizing packs of cards. Shouldn't they want to fill their heads with things that will be beautiful or useful to think about – volumes of great literature or the complete tax code and regulations, perhaps? But no. Competition is intrinsically rewarding. My question is like asking the fastest runner why he competes in the Olympics instead of running around looking at the trees and flowers or traveling back and forth to work.I'll bet you think that people like Pridmore must be lacking in other mental qualities, like that fellow in "The Mind of a Mnemonist." Most relatively smart people want to be even smarter but are still not all that concerned about not having an extremely strong memory. Yet having a great memory would be awfully useful!
What would you memorize if you had a superpower for memorizing?
Would you perform memorizing stunts for the public's entertainment? Would you enter some line of business (or form of gambling) where memorizing something would give you a great edge? Would you pursue memorizing as matter of pure pleasure or enlightenment?
If you could choose a great mental power – not a supernatural power, but just get into the top 0.0001% of human abillity – would you chose memory? If not, what power would you prefer and would you be worried that extreme memory powers would degrade some other aspect of life?